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Air Sahara denies entry to cerebral palsy patient

Rajeev Rajan, a disability activist says the ground staff refused him entry as he was unescorted and he also did not have a fit-to-fly certificate.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2007 23:10 IST
Jaya Shroff
Jaya Shroff
Hindustan Times

Rajeev Rajan, a disability activist who got the government of Chennai to bend its knees before him by getting two disabled friendly buses moving in the city was himself denied an entry into the aircraft by the ground staff of Air Sahara.

Humiliation did not stop there as the airlines also asked for police intervention. Inspite of the police officials identifying Rajan as a frequent flier due to his social activities, the airlines departed without him. Rajan who suffers from Cerebral Palsy was traveling from Chennai to Delhi for a meeting with the National trust, a government body.

According to Rajan, the ground staff refused him an entry as he was unescorted and he also did not have a fit-to-fly certificate. Upon contacting another private airline, SpiceJet for a ticket, Rajan was yet again turned down. Though the Jet Lite CEO Gary Kingshot admitted that such an incident occurred. “Jet Lite only followed IATA medical manual in respect of wheel chair passenger Mr Rajiv Rajan a cerebral palsy patient,” he said.

A SpiceJet spokesman said that the passenger did not contact them directly. “Jet Lite had asked us to take the passenger but we do not have a internal arrangement with them for passenger sharing. We would have taken him if he had made a fresh booking,” he said.

According to Javed Abidi, a social activist, “Any person suffering from cerebral palsy does not require an escort for travel. Simply because one looks different, does not mean he is unfit. Each person ought to be treated with utmost dignity.”

“Even after one whole day since the incident, there has been no intervention from the National Trust, Department of Disability (Ministry of social justice) or the Office of Chief Commissioner for disabilities is extremely distressing,” said Abidi.

Only recently an autistic child was refused admission into an Air Deccan flight in Bangalore. “While Indian, which is a government owned carrier is careful in dealing with the physically challenged while most private carriers acts irresponsibly as they do not have any policy for the disabled.”

As his next recourse, Rajan will file a PIL against these airlines. Even in the past Rajan has never shied away from fighting for his rights and yet again he would wrestle for justice inspite of his handicap. Disability Legislation Unit, a wing of Vidyasagar, a group of social activists from the South shall file a case in the consumer forum.

While most disability groups, led by Disabled Rights Group, a conglomerate of all disability groups across the country have asked for an unqualified apology from the two airlines; failing to which these groups shall go on a protest march.

Meanwhile, the Director General of Civil Aviation has issued a notice to the managements of SpiceJet and JetLite (Air Sahara's new name) asking for an immediate explanation. The airlines could face action if the DGCA is not satisfied with its reply.

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